Some points. The first is that this has nothing to do with her sex life, her "sexual proclivities", her "sexual preference", and all the other misnomers attached to a gay person by straight people. I am merely interested in her emotional and sexual orientation, a vital, profound, formative aspect of any person's life, gay or straight. For the record, she seems a fine pick to me, and I certainly don't believe her sexual orientation, gay or straight, should be anything but a minor factor in assessing her role on the court. There is a huge amount in her life and work that is admirable and I would support her nomination in a heartbeat on the current information we have. So this is not coming from the vile place of the Christianist right. It is coming from a place of the honest center, where sexual orientation is not a secret, but a fact; where disclosing it is not in any way shameful, and where raising it is not a "charge" or an "intrusion."
I know where others are coming from in their respect for what they see as privacy and I am not demanding that she be outed. I am asking for an end to the press's enabling of homophobia by treating gay people as if their lives do not actually exist.
To my countless heterosexual readers: Go read the NYT's 4,500 word Kagan profile. Now in your mind, write your own profile about yourself with the same level of detail - from classmates' high-school reminiscences to bat mitzvahs to leaving the car engine running overnight. Yes, that level of personal detail. Now try and write that profile of yourself and find a way to omit any reference to your heterosexuality. Just try. No dates; no crushes; no relationships; no mention of house or home, let alone partner; no one you have ever had a relationship with; no weddings or engagements or family. It's possible, of course, but barely. Completely emotionally remote people can live asexually, by repressing or sublimating emotional needs and sexual desire. But Kagan seems like the life of the party, witty, fun, brilliant, good-humored, gregarious, ambitious, open-hearted.
It seems as if the writers of the profile had to engage in cirque du soleil acrobatics to avoid any hint, or any reference to an actual life outside of the professional - except in childhood. And her career pattern is an almost text-book study in gay achievement in a discriminatory society. No one - no one - dissented when Sotomayor's ethnicity was made an integral part of her appeal as a Justice, because it reflected a life history the president found relevant. But this Justice? We are supposed to be appalled that the question even be in play, and we are told literally to "shut up" about it.
I am tired of journalists telling other journalists to shut up. Do your job. And stop enabling the double standards that entrench the bigotry that you claim to oppose.
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